Steve Donahue is the 20th head basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the only coach in the Ivy League history to head up two different programs to conference championships. The two are Cornell (2008-2010) and Penn (2018). Coach Donahue also won 100 conference games alongside 6 other coaches in the Ancient Eight history. Following the season, this great coach was named Ivy League Coach of the Year, as well as ECAC Coach of the Year and then rounded it off with NABC District 13 Coach of the Year. Coach Donahue offers some advice to high school athletes who are looking to play at the next level.
LRT Sports: What is the most important quality you look for in a recruit?
Coach Donahue: Put simply, what type of kid is he. We try to talk to as many people who know a recruit as possible so we can determine whether or not the kid is of the highest character.
LRT Sports: What is the best way for a recruit to get on your radar?
Coach Donahue: If they’re unknown to us, attending one of our elite camps is the best thing they can do. It’s a smaller setting where they’ll get directly evaluated by our coaches.
LRT Sports: When should an athlete contact you, what is the best way? (age, grade, time of year, email, phone, or other)
Coach Donahue: Probably around sophomore year. And the best way to contact us is typically in person at one of our elite camps. We get so many emails and stuff that it all blends together.
LRT Sports: What are your expectations for incoming players in the classroom, in the weight room, and on the court?
Coach Donahue: Academics is always priority one. We don’t want that to be an issue that the coaches hear about. Other than that we want each player to compete relentlessly on and off the court – in the classroom, in the weight room, etc.
LRT Sports: What are the do’s and don’ts of being recruited?
Coach Donahue: Don’t relentlessly email coaches. The emails are heavily overlooked. Do be present to coaches when you can – on-campus events, etc. And be engaging and conversational.
LRT Sports: What is the best advice you can offer a recruit?
Coach Donahue: Focus on being an unbelievable student and an incredible player and teammate. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself, and the recruiting will handle itself.
LRT Sports: What jumps out to you when reviewing a recruit’s highlight tape?
Coach Donahue: Shooting and how he reacts to different (primarily negative) situations in a game.
LRT Sports: What are the main do’s and don’ts for a recruit’s highlight tape?
Coach Donahue: Don’t just put made shots. Show that you’re a well-rounded player…including being a tremendous teammate.
LRT Sports: When do you recommend recruits put together and share their highlight reels?
Is it best to make their highlight reel during offseason, in the middle of the season, or after each game.
Coach Donahue: Make it during the off-season. That way you can include a higher quantity of game footage.
LRT Sports: What advice do you have for recruits who get turned down by their dream schools? What are their options if they don’t gain the recruiting attention they desire?
Coach Donahue: Everything happens for a reason. So many people get turned down from their dream schools. Make the most of whatever situation is presented to you. Always have backup plans besides your dream school, even if it doesn’t involve playing a sport.
LRT Sports: How big a factor is social media when recruiting players? What advice do you have for athletes regarding social media?
Coach Donahue: Huge factor! We’ve stopped recruiting players because of things they post or share or retweet. Coaches are looking at all sorts of social media to gain a full understanding of who the person is.
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The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
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Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.